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Great American Outdoor Show

People attend the Great American Outdoor Show Feb. 7, 2016, at the Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex & Expo Center in Harrisburg.

Sportsmen near and far are gearing up for the 2018 Great American Outdoor Show, which opens this Saturday at the Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex in Harrisburg and continues daily through Feb. 11.

Touted as the World’s Largest Outdoor Show, the nine-day sporting show offers more than 1,100 exhibitors and nine exhibit halls stretching across 650,000 square feet. Exhibit halls are themed around archery, boats, fishing, hunting outfitters, outdoor products, RVs and shooting sports. More than 400 outfitters and fishing charter captains also are expected to be on hand, according to a news release from the National Rifle Association, which has produced and organized the Great American Outdoor Show for the past five years.

“This (show) has turned from being a regional/local event to a national destination,” Jason Brown, NRA media relations manager, said on Thursday. “It’s the biggest consumer sports outdoor show in the world. We’re expecting around 200,000 people from across the country to attend. People from 48 U.S. states and Europe bought tickets for last year’s show. It’s become a staple in this area.”

The 2018 Great American Outdoor Show is presented by MyOutdoorTruckTV. Associate sponsors are Cabela’s and Ram Truck.

Although the show has grown over the years, Brown said becoming bigger isn’t necessarily organizers’ key objective. “Our goal is to bring back an amazing show here each year and bring back the same folks who enjoyed it before. We’re celebrating the outdoor lifestyle. Americans can come together here and share traditions,” Brown said.

Bingo drawing

The show’s popular Wall of Gun event returns this year, but with a new twist — the Wall of Guns Treasure Hunt Bingo Card. Players who receive a full row of stamps from sponsoring vendors are entered to win a bingo drawing for $1,000 cash or a Henry rifle. Participants also can try their luck at winning a choice from more than 60 firearms at the Wall of Guns. The event is sponsored by Henry Repeating Arms and runs each day of the show.

From Feb. 3 to Feb. 7, the high-flying DockDogs competitions return to the show’s large arena. The public is welcome to enter canine companions in up to three DockDog events. Spectators are welcome.

From Feb. 3 to Feb. 11, a 3D Bowhunter Challenge & Spot Shoot is sponsored by Weaknecht Archery and Victory Archery. Participants can vie for trophies and cash prizes by showing their skills in a 30-shot course. The new Spot Shoot is presented by Keystone State Games.

Also, more than 200 seminars and demonstrations focusing on hunting, fishing, cooking and self/home defense are available onsite from Feb. 3 to Feb. 11 with appearances by outdoor celebrities and experts. The 5,000-gallon Hawg Tank returns this year with a full lineup of seminars from world-renown anglers.

Family fun also is available every day of the show. Youngsters can try out the Kids Trout Pond, the NRA Range Experience, a rock climbing wall, and the NRA Air Gun Range. An Eagle Eddie Kids Zone celebrates 30 years of gun accident prevention with face painting, basketball and more. A Kids Casting Contests will be conducted on Feb. 3, 4, 10 and 11.

On Feb. 10, NRA Country presents Granger Smith and LoCash with special guests Nate Hosie and Earl Dibbles Jr. at the Large Arena. The family-friendly Friends of NRA Banquet takes place on Feb. 8 with chances to bid on and win firearms, merchandise and hunts.